Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi and Alexis Christoforous discuss the thriving video game industry with Super League Gaming CEO & Chairman, Ann Hand.
BRIAN SOZZI: The video-game industry is thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's not just limited to the hardware and software aspects. Super League, which is a competitive video gaming and esports platform, has crossed 1 billion views. Wow. That's a 700% increase in audience growth from last year.
Let's break it down with Ann Hand, CEO and Chairman of Super League Gaming, as well as our gaming expert and tech editor Dan Howley. Ann, good to-- good to speak with you again. What are you seeing in terms of-- have you break-- have you broken that key 2 million user market?
ANN HAND: Yeah, we saw all the same surge of engagement that you would expect during COVID. Hit that 2 million mark as well last month, and so it's really explosive growth.
And what it's opened the door for as a company is, you know, we started building technology originally so that we could do livestream content production and broadcast for esports for everyday gamers, right? But that technology now in a COVID world has so many more applications. Because it's a 100% virtual remote platform, we're now having conversations with media companies about bringing all kinds of livestream exciting, thrilling content to bear, not just gaming related.
DAN HOWLEY: Hey, Ann, when you look at the gaming landscape right now, right, you have, like, some of the biggest names out there putting out their own types of games, and you're seeing them really benefit as a result of the pandemic. How much do you see that kind of coming back when the pandemic ends?
ANN HAND: Yeah, it's a really popular question our public investors ask us often. And the thing is is that, you know, I've talked to you guys about this before. Before COVID, gaming was already bigger than TV. It was already three times the size of the global film box office. So it was already becoming the dominant form of entertainment for Gen Zs and millennials, and it's because, as you know all too well, it's so sticky. There's so much social and community. It's much more exciting and interactive than me passively watching too much Netflix on any given night. And so I really believe that it is now a mainstream, preferred form of entertainment.
Now, of course, as your previous guest said, people are enjoying glamping in their backyard. And I do think, if the pandemic controls itself, of course we'll all want to run outside and get a little crazy for a bit. But I don't think it's going to change the fact that this is this preferred form of entertainment for the younger audience.
Now, that said, I think what has been really helpful for Super League is the fact that we've now gotten to such critical mass with our viewing. We have three shows on Snapchat. We've got several Instagram and TikTok channels. We've got those registered users you were talking about earlier, 2 million strong. And when you start to get that kind of volume, that really starts to mean that Super League is taking a greater share of a gamer's time, and that really gives our brand and our platform real longevity.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Ann, you mentioned TikTok there. You're partnering with a Chinese video site called bilibili. What kind of potential is that for Super League, and are you concerned at all that now the White House is eyeing companies that are doing business with China over privacy concerns?
ANN HAND: Yeah, I mean, look, any time that we can have better standards to ensure that all of our consumer data is more safe, that's a good thing. And let's see if Microsoft is successful in their bid to take over TikTok. They certainly have a wonderful Disney executive at the helm who, you know, can lead, I think, that company, and it is a very engaging platform.
You know, we also have a very important partnership with Wanda in China. And when the world is ready to bring back real-life gaming events, our platform will be there to do that for that massive gaming audience there.
DAN HOWLEY: Ann, when you look at something like Super League Gaming and you look at things like people streaming games, I guess in the long run, what does that do to sales of games, right? Do gamers then just watch the game and then not go out and buy it? I know a few friends that do that rather than purchasing games. What kind of impact does it have on sales, and then what kind of relationship you have with the big publishers?
ANN HAND: Yeah, I'll take your last part of your question first. We have a wonderful relationship with the publishers because we're really a marketing arm for them, right? We're about taking and wrapping team and league structures around everyday games that are already established and have great communities, and we take that idea of esports, a very aspirational idea, and we take it to the masses. So in that sense, we're getting people to engage more in and around that game, and that means they're going to play the game longer. So that's a good thing.
As far as your first question goes, it really just started to really shine on actually what's really at the heart of the Super League platform. You know, in the early days, we organized the events and experiences, and we really pushed them down to the gamers and kind of fed them to the gamers to get them engaged in our platform. But at the heart of Super League, it's really a user-generated content platform.
And so we're going to be introducing ways for everyday gamers to spin up their own leagues and teams and challenges. We already have a platform where they give us their great highlight clips, and that can be playing any game, anywhere. And so at its heart, it really becomes a user-generated-content network where we've just built some really great tools and technology and our platform that puts it all in their hands.
Because really to your point, what do we know about this younger gaming audience? Well, everybody wants to be a star. It's the democratization of content creation. And whether it's playing the game and that's the content they want to produce or producing entertaining viewing content around the game, that is just as much of an interest for the everyday gamer as to watch other people's gaming rather than game themselves. So we're really about pushing those tools into their hands.
BRIAN SOZZI: All right, let's leave it there. Ann Hand, CEO and chairman of Super League Gaming, good to see you again. Dan Howley, thanks so much.